In wake of the trial of former National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul Central, Abdoulie Saine, a chorus of voices are condemning the rise of tribal bigotry being exhibited by politicians and their supporters. This shift in political rhetoric continues to undermine the peace and stability that Gambians have been enjoying for decades.
“We should preserve the peace that we fought for,” the Secretary General of the Foundation for Peace,, Justice and National Development (FPJND), Saidou Bayo, told this reporter in an exclusive interview.
Since the end of Yahya Jammeh’s two-decade long dictatorship, Gambians are enjoying a new democratic dispensation. Social media platforms have become a vital tool for many people to exercise their ‘freedom of speech’. However, the eruption of hate speech and tribal bigotry raise serious concerns in the country.
FPJND was in the frontline Monday when former APRC lawmaker appeared in Banjul Magistrates’ court. Members of the said civil society group expressed their determination to make sure that the law takes its course.
“We don’t want this kind of issue (tribal bigotry) to reoccur anymore,” Bayo said. “Anybody who violates the law must face the full force of the law.”
Similar sentiments were also expressed by FPJND Assistant Secretary, Isatou Jallow, who reiterated that Gambia is one.
“We stand for The Gambia. We don’t want history to repeat itsel. Gambia belongs to all of us,” she said.
She went further to call on the authorities to stand firm on their ground as peace and stability are important for national development.
Isatou Jallow said everything started with the former regime as there were instances Mandinkas were directly attacked by President Jammeh.
“We’ve also seen during the local government elections a lady, who claimed to be a supporter of the United Democratic Party (UDP), launched attacks against the Sarahulleh community,” she added. “It is high time for justice to do their work.”
A report obtained by this reporter, and which was endorsed by the Ministry of Interior, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), identified six primary areas of concerns and described them as “key conflict drivers.”
Released in June this year, the report added: “Amongst them are publically and privately delivered messages that stoke ethnic divisions and embodiment themselves in the collective psyche.”
As the media has the ability to amplify messages, the Dean of the School of Journalism (UTG), Nana Grey-Johnson, urged journalists to be more responsible.
“You are preaching tribalism, separation. Listen to your radio stations,” he told Gambian journalists during the just concluded Gambia Press Union (GPU) XI Triennial Congress.
He said Gambians are on the brink of pains, deploring the fact that a Kenya-like crisis is hanging over the tiny West African nation.
“Let us move The Gambia away from tribalism,” he said provoking waves of applause.
The newly elected GPU, Sheriff Bojang Jnr, expressed his resolve to revamp the code of conduct in order to make sure that journalists go by the rules in performing their duty to inform.
“We cannot have journalists going against one tribe on social media platforms,” he said.
Bojang warned that anybody found wanting will have to face the consequences.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN
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